Increase in CO2 partial pressures over a desert soil treated with casamino-acids glucose solution correlated with bacterial growth. Few or no increases in numbers of bacteria or CO2 concentrations were noted in similar plots treated with water only or receiving no treatment. Growth in the soil appeared to be severely nutrient limited during the 10 day experiment. Especially rapid growth took place between the third and fifth day, when temperatures ranged from 0 deg. (night) to a maximum of 17.4 deg. (day). Under the conditions of the experiment, intermittent CO2 assay was an insensitive indicator of growth, possibly because of restiction of gas escape by the desert pavement or solution, exchange, or precipitation of carbonate, but more likely because of inefficient sealing of hoods to and below the soil surface. CO2 assay was unable to detect microbial successions. The unpredictable course of these successions, plus unpredictable relative retentions mitigates against assay of organic gases as reliable in situ detection of microbial activity, except perhaps in very alkaline environments such as Owens Lake salts.